Deutch, Rooney Bill to Protect Veterans from Scams Passes Committee, Heads to House Floor
This morning, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act (H.R. 506), bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL) that would protect veterans from scam artists who target them for profit.
In recent years, financial predators have increasingly targeted veterans, particularly elderly veterans in low-income housing or Assisted Living Facilities, in an effort to defraud them out of their Veteran’s Affairs (VA) benefits. Currently, it is illegal for unauthorized individuals to charge veterans a fee for aid in receiving their benefits, like VA pensions. However there are no legal or financial repercussions for those who choose to blatantly violate this law, and these scammers often get away with charging veterans exorbitant fees while the veteran has no guarantee that they'll receive any help with their VA benefits.
If enacted, the bipartisan Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act would close this loophole by levying a heavy fine, imprisonment of up to five years, or both, on any individual who blatantly engage in schemes to defraud veterans (or their spouses) of their benefits.
"Pension poaching is not only illegal, it's a despicable and immoral practice," said Congressman Deutch. "These scammers are getting more and more sophisticated in how they identify and deceive vulnerable veterans with lofty promises to help them with their pensions while charging outrageous fees. Congressman Rooney and I have received overwhelming support from our Congressional colleagues to close this loophole, and we look forward to voting on this on the House floor."
“Anyone who seeks to financially exploit the men and women who have served our country and cheat them out of their hard-earned VA benefits should have to face a harsh punishment for their criminal actions,” Congressman Tom Rooney said. “Frankly it’s appalling that there are individuals out there who are targeting veterans, especially those in low-income housing or who are elderly, with these schemes. This commonsense legislation will help give prosecutors the tools they need to protect our veterans and go after these criminals. I commend my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee for their decision to move this bill forward and advance it to the House floor.”
Congressman Deutch is a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, which passed the legislation. His remarks during the markup hearing can be viewed here. Congressman Rooney is an Army veteran and a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.
This bipartisan bill was introduced on Thursday, January 12, 2017. Click here for a one-page summary of the legislation.
In the 114th Congress, the House of Representatives passed the Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act (H.R. 4676).